It appears that Amber Heard’s numerous attempts to have the defamation lawsuit filed against her by ex-husband Johnny Depp were nothing more than a futile effort, as a Virginia state judge has ruled that, despite losing his defamation case in the UK, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor meets all legal standards for continuing in his case against his ex-wife.
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Prior to Fairfax County Judge Penny Azcarate’s recent October 12th ruling, Heard’s legal team had twice petitioned the court, albeit both times unsuccessfully, to have the defamation suit thrown out on the grounds that, because Depp had lost his UK ‘wife-beater’ defamation case against The Sun on related grounds, the actor’s US-based lawsuit had no merit.
Heard’s lawyers were seeking to have the Aquaman star’s third – and likely final, given that there is no other legal body to escalate the request to – attempt to dismiss the case escalated to the Virginia Supreme Court in the hopes that the state’s highest court would rule in their favor.
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First, Heard’s team argued that “this Court should recognize the U.K. Judgements,” a request which was quickly denied by Azcarate, who stated that “”Defendant’s claim that refusing to recognize the U.K. Judgment in this case would set a dangerous precedent is unfounded.”
“If anything, upholding English libel judgments in the United States would create the chilling effect and could create a dangerous precedent,” Azcarate said in her opinion. Accordingly, this Court is unpersuaded by Defendant’s argument.”
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Next, her lawyers asserted that she was afforded ‘privity’, a legal concept “precludes a party or a party’s privies from litigating a factual issue determined in the prior litigation.”
In response, Azcarate ruled in August that Heard was not privy to this luxury because “Although the claims are similar in the sense they both relate to claims of abuse by Plaintiff, the statements being defended in the UK case are inherently different than the statements published by the Defendant.”
“In fact,” added Azcarate, “Defendant could not [emphasis hers] have been named defendant to the UK litigation because her allegedly defamatory statements were made after the UK action commenced.”
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In the third and latest attempt to dismiss, Heard’s attorney, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, reasoned that because “some legal facets of the case — for example, whether Depp is barred from relitigating issues covered in the U.K. — have not been fully decided,” the defamation lawsuit should not move forward.
However, as reported by Courthouse News Service, Azcarate ultimately determined that, in her opinion, “the defamation claim in the U.K. was based on completely different statements than the present case.”
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In support of her argument, Azcarate also went through each legal standard required to send the case to the Virginia Supreme Court and concluded that the defamation case didn’t qualify for escalation.
Following the ruling, Depp’s attorney, Ben Chew of Brown Rudnick LLP, asserted to Courthouse News Service that Azcarate’s decision “did not appear to be a close call.”
With this decision, Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Heard is set to head to trial on April 11th, 2022.
What do you make of Heard’s latest failed attempt to have Depp’s defamation suit dismissed? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!